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A Guide to UCAS Clearing 2023

What should you do if your child doesn’t meet the results required for their university offers and needs to use Clearing? This guide takes you through the process of using UCAS Clearing to secure a place at a University in the UK and outlines what has changed this year.

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2023 was a particularly competitive year for university admissions, as UCAS received their second-highest number of applicants on record. In September 2022, Ofqual’s Chief Regulator, Dr Jo Saxton, and the Department for Education (DfE) announced a return in 2023 to pre-pandemic grading standards. This means that students’ grades are expected to be lower than in 2022, and more similar to grade outcomes of 2019, before the pandemic.

If your child’s results don’t secure them a place at their first choice, or even their insurance choice, or if they would like to explore different options, then preparing for and utilising Clearing effectively is essential.

What is UCAS Clearing?

Clearing is the chance for your child to find a place at university if they haven’t received their expected grades or aren’t happy with either their insurance, or their firm, choices. When Clearing opens, universities publish a list of courses that still have available places. Thousands of students secure a place through Clearing every year.

ucas clearing guide

Students can use Clearing if:

• They didn’t receive any offers or none they wanted to accept
• They didn’t meet the conditions of their offers
• They have declined their firm place.

Key dates for Clearing 2023

Clearing opens on the 5th of July 2023 and the deadline for clearing is the 17th of October 2023.

Preparing for Clearing

We advise parents and students to prepare for Clearing well in advance. Taking a few hours to research alternative courses and university options will significantly reduce stress and improve outcomes. On results day, if you are utilising Clearing, working quickly against a pre-selected shortlist will give your child the most choice from courses with available places.

Not every course at every university will be in Clearing. Popular courses at particularly competitive universities, including UCL and Imperial, are unlikely to feature. Oxford University and Cambridge University do not offer places through UCAS Clearing at all.

To prepare for Clearing, students should be armed with a list of courses they would consider based on a range of various grade outcomes. They can quickly check those courses on results day. Although clearing traditionally provided lower entry requirements, don’t assume that this will still be the case. As a result of the turbulence and increased competitiveness since 2020, competitive universities such as Leeds and Exeter were not at all flexible with their entry requirements for Clearing. SLT expects this trend to continue in 2023.

ucas clearing

How to use Clearing

It is well worth seeking advice from your child’s school or contacting the UCAS helpline to help guide you through the next steps. If you would like a more personalised and focused service, please call us; we will guide you through every step of the Clearing process.

To enter Clearing, students must decline any existing offers they may have. For example, if your child has secured their firm, or insurance choice, but isn’t sure if they want to accept it, they will need to officially decline this offer before being able to secure an alternative place through Clearing. However, students can review what options might be available via Clearing before officially declining (although places go quickly).

To quickly navigate all available places in Clearing, UCAS is the best place to start. They have the official vacancy list, and it is the most up-to-date. It is important to contact universities as soon as possible. Most universities will ask students to express their interest online or get in touch via email. However, if the option to contact a university on the phone is available, we would always advise the student to call the university they are interested in. A Clearing course choice can only be added to UCAS once confirmed with the university. This will count on UCAS as an offer acceptance, so if the university confirms, it’ll show as an acceptance on the student’s ‘Choices’ page. If the university confirms the place the next step is to complete the necessary steps for student accommodation, we suggest doing so as soon as possible to have the most choice.

Clearing Plus

UCAS has created a tool called Clearing Plus. This is a tool that recommends clearing courses for your child based on their application. This is only available if your child does not receive any University offers or does not meet the grade requirements of any of their offers. You can view their matches in their UCAS HUB. If they express an interest in a course, that university will contact them. Rather than just relying on Clearing Plus, we advise looking for other courses directly using the Clearing search tool on UCAS or university websites. You may find more attractive courses on your own, and you will need to move quickly because places will fill up.

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What’s new in UCAS Clearing for 2023?

Adjustment (when a student achieves a higher result than predicted) is no longer available, as in 2022. Students who wish to seek a different place will be able to decline their offer and seek a new opportunity through Clearing.

Students will be able to access their results at 08.00 on JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) results day, and able to add a Clearing Choice to their UCAS application from 13.00. Universities and Colleges can now add a reason/reasons why an applicant’s conditional offer is still conditional in the HUB.

In a similar way to 2021 and 2022, applicants are no longer presented with an ‘AS12’ Confirmation letter once their place is confirmed. Instead, they will receive details of what they need to do, and when, through their application, or directly from their university or college.

Confirmation decisions and the CU12 Confirmation letter for UCAS Conservatoires applicants are shown in their application on UCAS.

Simply Learning Tuition’s education consultants work with students every year to help them plan for and navigate Clearing effectively on the day. We can advise on alternative courses and university choices, and help students present themselves in the best possible light.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss how we can help.

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